February 26, 2007 Hangzhou China
Finally, all the waiting was over. My daughter, wide eyed, small & afraid, smelly & in orphanage hand me downs, stood there before me. In my heart – God had already made me her mother before the foundations of the world were laid. She wasn’t so sure of me. Her heart, I think, longed for something, but she wasn’t sure what. All those she had ever known to give her direction had told her that having a Ba Ba and Ma Ma was a good thing, but her mind was surely full of fear and unknowns.
She tried so hard to be brave as they nudged her forward again and again. I could see the curiosity in those big, beautiful eyes, but the uncertainty and the loud sobbing of the little girl across the room finally got the better of her. She ran. She pulled away from anyone who tried to redirect her. She kicked and she screamed and she threw herself on the floor. Then a rest and there was that curiosity again. Then she ran more.
There was no place for her to turn for safety and comfort really. Everyone kept pointing her back to me. “That is you’re Ma Ma,” they assured her with smiling faces. But what is a Ma Ma? Her life experience left her drawing a blank. I tried to stand back and give her space and time to process it all. I could only follow at a distance, watch and hope she would calm down and find it within herself to trust me just a little – enough to reach out and take my hand and allow me to prove my love and devotion over time.
Finally, out of people or places to run to, and with some M&M’s to coax her along – she reluctantly decided to give me a chance. One M&M at a time, she followed until we had made our way down all six flights of stairs there in the cigarette smoke filled and dreary government building.
Now in the van and on our way to what lie ahead, my heart ached for her. At that moment, the language barrier seemed insurmountable. In the loud silence of her panic, fear and confusion - the universal language of love could not yet be heard. How could I make her understand the blessings that lie ahead? How could I assure her that it would all be glorious in the end? I kept the M&M’s coming.
So this was the start to her new beginning. No longer would this little girl be a country’s shameful, hidden statistic. She would be treasured and the pride and joy of her parents. No longer would she wear donated cast off clothing and have to rally for something to call her own. She would be her Ma Ma’s dress up dolly – dawned in the cutest of girly-girl fashions, and spoiled by relatives and friends with anything a little girl could want. She would be given love unconditionally, a future full of opportunity in a land where women and girls are treasured and valued instead of abandoned and oppressed. She would have medical care and education, clean water to drink, a home and room to call her own. She would be prayed over and adored every day from this day forward.
Still, where she was at this moment, she could not understand. Only time would be able to reveal all these blessings to her. I could only pray that she might trust me and learn for the first time in her four years of life the true meaning of Ma Ma and Ba Ba.
After a quick and stressful stop for a passport photo, we were back in our make-shift home for the next 14 days. I so badly needed to get her bathed and out of the smelly clothes that reeked of the car sickness she had on the way to Hangzhou from the LanXi SWI.
Ready and waiting just for her were clothes in every shade of pink a little girl could want, along with ruffles and hair bows, tights and mary-janes fit for a princess.
I ran a nice warm bath and proceeded to try to entice her out of her old clothes. I was longing for her to be able to understand not only my language but my heart. She clutched her arms around herself and steadily backed away from me. As I watched her in her fear of letting go of the only possessions she had, to a woman she didn’t know – my adoptive Daddy spoke to me...
“Daughter, my relationship with you began just this way. You came to me unsure and afraid with no where else to turn. You were clothed in all the world had offered you - dirty and smelly and in garments covered in stains. Your heart told you that having a heavenly father was a good thing, but your life experience gave you nothing to draw on. You ran from me for much longer than minutes before you reached out to hold my hand. I waited, just as you wait today, with the deepest love and longing. You see, you and I have a language barrier as well. Your mind cannot fathom my ways. My heart aches for you to trust and understand fully my goodness.
Your struggle to trust me with all things continues even today. You clutch onto your own abilities and that which you possess and hesitate at times when I ask you deeper into the water. It is only after you jump into the water and after you have given me your full trust with all things that I can give you the full treasure that I have for you – the treasure and riches that a daughter of the King of Kings deserves. Just as Lydia can’t, neither can you wear your filth and rags and be adorned with riches at the same time. You must first let go of all things “yours” and then I can release what I have for you.”
What perfect timing for this intimate word from my Daddy. In just the blink of an eye he spoke a priceless treasure into my heart, reaffirming to me that adoption is His gift to me and in it’s earthly form – the closest model we have to our relationship with him.
So today I pray that I can follow my little daughter’s example of bravery - for she decided that day to forge ahead and trust. She boldly shed her smelly garments from the past and got into that water. At first she would only stand there ankle deep, but in a minute or two she dove full in. There she sat splashing and laughing and celebrating a new beginning. From that moment on we have walked forward into God’s blessing upon her life - hand in hand. It seems as though she hasn’t looked back, and she embraces everyday with a joy and zest for life that is inspiring.
Amazingly resilient, shining with beauty within and without – that is how I describe her. Her ability to trust in spite of her past is nothing less than miraculous. I am blessed to have been chosen to be her mother, and only pray that I can learn from her example.